Vaccination plays an important role in the control of infectious diseases, both for an individual cat, as well as the cat population (herd health.) Our goal is to vaccinate each cat only against infectious agents to which it has a realistic risk of exposure. This means we aim to vaccinate a cat only when the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks – to vaccinate each cat no more frequently than necessary and to vaccinate appropriately to protect human/public health.
Does my indoor cat need to be vaccinated?
Yes! While indoor cats generally have a low risk of exposure to infectious agents, due to no contact with other cats, they may still be exposed by indirect transmission of agents brought in on owners clothing, shoes, etc. In theory, strictly indoor cats may be even more susceptible to developing panleukopenia because their immune systems are not boosted through natural exposure. Exposure to rabies is also possible through bats that fly into people’s houses. While this may sound ridiculous, every year we come across clients who have found a bat in their house! Rabies is very serious as it is a zoonotic disease (transmissible to humans) and can be fatal.
What is FVRCP and core vaccines for cats?
Core vaccines are those vaccines that are recommended for ALL CATS. These include feline herpesvirus, feline calicivirus and feline panleukopenia. These viruses can cause severe upper respiratory infections, lethargy, anorexia, severe immunosuppression and death. Rabies is also considered a core vaccine, as this virus is endemic in Alberta, and the consequences of infection are deadly. There are other non-core vaccines, such as feline leukemia, recommended for cats that go outside, or multi-cat households. Regardless of vaccine requirements, an annual physical exam is of utmost importance.
How often does my adult cat need vaccination?
The FVRCP vaccine is labelled to be given every three years. The rabies vaccine and feline leukemia vaccines are labelled to be given annually.
Are there any risks associated with vaccines?
There are many risk variables that we take into consideration before vaccinating, including overall health, immunodeficiency, immunosuppressive therapy, and nutritional status. With any vaccine, there is a rare possibility of allergic reaction. This happens very quickly after vaccination and may cause loss of appetite, pain at the site of injection, lethargy, vomiting, and fever. There is also the rare possibility (less than 0.0001 %) of developing a feline injection site sarcoma. This is a malignant tumour linked to vaccine injection, especially if given higher up on the body.